Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2019. 4:28 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Deputy Director of the Belize Tax Service Department, Reynaldo Verde, continues to be held in the U.S. without bail after being arrested on charges of interference with commerce by means of extortion and attempted extortion.
Reports suggest it has been recommended that Verde enter pre-trial diversion which is an alternative to prosecution which seeks to divert certain offenders from traditional criminal justice processing into a program of supervision and services administered by the U.S. Probation Service.
Verde is accused of attempting to extort the principal of Orchid Bay Development, Chris Williams, on $350,000 to remove taxes owed by the company based in Corozal.
But Verde faces another set of investigations by his own department at home, which has been approved by Minister for Finance and the Public Service, Prime Minister Dean Barrow.
With regard to Verde’s charges, the Prime Minister said simply, “It doesn’t look good.”
Of greater concern locally and internationally for the P.M. is the reputation of the Public Service. “I will hope that people would recognize that the vast majority of public officers are honest and conscientious. Of course there are some that aren’t. But I don’t think we should use the apparent wrong doing of some as a brush with which to daub the entirety of the public service. Absolutely not. By and large I think we have good hardworking honest public officers.”
And, without directly accusing Verde, the P.M. said the newly formed BTSD, an amalgam of the Income Tax and General Sales Tax Departments, should look into any allegation of “shakedowns” of businesses, and that there may be other businesspeople who will come forward to substantiate such a charge.
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